Commonweal Pods

Reed Watts Architects, London, 2018


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Cameron Maynard, Reed Watts Architects, Simon Wye     Download Original

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The innovative sleeping pods are the result of a design competition held by the charity Commonweal Housing.

The brief called for ideas a new model of low-cost, short-term accommodation that could be installed in halls and empty and underused buildings primarily for homeless people.

Our winning, modular design is made up of a several interlocking, pre-fabricated panels that can be easily stored, moved and assembled by hand without the use of tools. Commonly, temporary shelters for rough sleepers consist of large open dormitories with a number of mattresses laid on the floor.

The pods help to provide privacy, a sense of security and dignity for the people using them. The pods stand 2.1 metres high, 2.1m in length and 1.9m wide, are made of 18mm thick, fireproof birch plywood and include a raised platform for a mattress that acts as both a bed and a seat, as well as storage space for personal belongings.

We wanted to ensure that the design could be adopted and delivered by a wide range of different groups – including small local charities, church and community groups. The panels are cut from CNC templates so that the pieces slot together simply and quickly and held together with plywood peg.

The cutting list and instruction manual is being made freely available to any not for profit institution under a royalty-free Creative Commons license. Following successful prototype testing in a winter shelter in Hillingdon ten pods have since been installed at the 999 Club in Deptford with further pod installations planned for the Pilion Trust in Holloway and for Housing Justice in Archway. Enquiries have also been received from a number of charities and local authorities around the UK and abroad.


  • Begun: Dec 2018
  • Completed: Dec 2018
  • Floor area: 40m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £7,100
  • Funding: Private
  • Address: 999 Club, 21 Deptford Broadway, London, SE8 4PA, United Kingdom